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Full text of "[City documents, 1847-1867]"

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REPORT 



COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC PROPERTY 



ON 



NAMING 





ROXBURY: 

NORFOLK COUNTY JOURNAL PRESS. 

1856. 



CITY OF ROXBURY. 



In Board of Aldermen, Feb. 11, 1856. 

Report read and accepted, and Order adopted ; and that two thousand 
copies of the same be printed for distribution. 

JOSEPH W. TUCKER, City Clerk. 



Cifjj of ^o^urjr. 

In Board of Aldermen, Feb. 11, 1856. 

The Committee on Public Property, to whom was referred 
the petition of Thomas Simmons and others ; also the 
petition of Henry D. Gray and others, praying the City 
Council, that the new School House on Gore Avenue 
may be named the Eliot School, and also the remon- 
strance of James M. Keith and others against changing 
the name of said school house, have considered the sub- 
ject and respectfully 

[REPORT : 

The Petitioners ask that " the new School House re- 
cently erected by the City on Gore Avenue may be called 
the ' Eliot School,' and that the same may be so named 
by the City Council." 

The building to which reference is made, was finished 
ready for occupancy, and delivered over to the School 
Committee in March, 1855, and it appears by an inspection 
of the records, that it has as yet received no name from 
the City Council, owing to a division of opinion between 
the two branches of the City Council of 1855. 

At the first meeting of the School Committee of last 
year (Jan. 3d), a period of more than two months before 
the building was completed, and ready for use, an order 
was offered, naming it the " Comins School." Objections 
were made to the order, and it was laid over until the next 
meeting (Jan. 17th), when it was taken up and passed; 
twelve members being present, six voting in the affirmative. 
The Chairman declared it to be a vote. That there was a 
strong opposition to the name in the School Committee, as 
well as in the City Council, there can be no doubt. 



The only question for us to determine is, Has the School 
House on Gore Avenue been named ? It is claimed that 
precedent gives the School Committee the exclusive right 
to name the school, and that this is the practice in many 
other places. With the practice in other places, we have 
nothing to do, but what has been the practice here ? 

The "Central" (now in West Roxbury), the "Dudley," 
and " Washington " schools were named by the School 
Committee, and these instances are cited to show that this 
right belongs to that board. These schools were estab- 
lished many years ago, under the town government, when 
the duties of the School Committee were more arduous 
and somewhat different from what they are now. 

The committee then had charge of the entire appropria- 
tions for Schools, contracted for the purchase of lands, for 
the erection, alteration and repairs of houses, and had the 
care and superintendence of the buildings, &c, and submit- 
ted their report annually to the town. Upon the adoption 
of the City Charter, 1846, it was found necessary to change 
the practice, in order to have an uniform system of accoun- 
tability in the expenditures of the city, and because the 
Charter required that " the City Council should take care 
that no moneys be paid from the treasury unless granted or 
appropriated ; shall secure a just and proper accountabil- 
ity by requiring bonds, with sufficient penalties and sureties, 
from all persons trusted with the receipts and custody or 
disbursement of money ; shall have the care and superin- 
tendence of the city buildings, with power to let, or to sell, 
what may be legally sold ; and to purchase property, real 
or personal, in the name, and for the use of, the city, 
whenever its interest or convenience may in their judg- 
ment require it." 

The School Committee desired to continue the old sys- 
tem after the Charter was adopted, and one, among other 
reasons, was, because the convenience of the schools and 
teachers seemed to require that the committee should be 



able to furnish many small articles often required, and 
some small repairs which might require immediate atten- 
tion. The City Council objected, and to meet this want 
and to provide for any contingency of the sort, an ordi- 
nance was passed July 21st, 1847, No. 22, giving the com- 
mittee power to expend for the purposes therein named, a 
sum not exceeding fifty dollars. The School Committee 
passed a vote, "regarding with much satisfaction those 
proceedings of the City* Council, by which it appears they 
may be relieved from the duty of contracting for, and 
superintending, the erection, repair, and alteration of 
school houses, and for all labor and responsibility for the 
schools, except as relates to their internal management, 
and their literary and moral interest and improvement." 
The first and only Grammar School house ( for a new 
school) erected under the city government, was named by 
the City Council, or a Joint Committee thereof. We 
allude to the "Dearborn School." 

Now if the action of the School Committee under the 
town government is claimed as a precedent for naming 
new buildings, why did not the School Committee exercise 
their rights in the case of the Dearborn School? If their 
rights had been invaded, why did they not protest, and 
claim to exercise their authority in their own way, and 
place themselves right, at least upon their own record ? 

But there is no evidence of any dissatisfaction on their 
part with the action of the city government j on the con- 
trary, we have evidence of their cordial acquiescence, by 
recognizing the name and placing it upon their own 
records, and it is only a fair presumption that had the 
City Council anticipated their action, and given a name to 
the new school house on Gore Avenue, in accordance with 
the precedent established under the Charter in the case of 
the Dearborn School, they would have cordially assented 
to it, and all the difficulty and strife arising from what 
seems to be hasty, ill-timed, and inconsiderate action on 

*1 



the part of some during the past year, both in and out o 
the board, would have been avoided. There is no vote, 
order, resolution, or by-law, either of the town or city, or 
any statute which authorized the School Committee or the 
government to perform this duty, and the authority is de- 
rived from the Charter, and that alone. The usage, as we 
have already stated, has varied under different forms of 
government, but under the city government, in the case of 
the Dearborn School, the City Council exercised the right 
with the implied assent of the School Committee, they not 
objecting or dissenting, but on the contrary clearly recog- 
nizing and approving the act by placing the name upon 
their records. 

We cannot see that the right of the School Committee 
would be invaded, or that it would be any violation of the 
rules of courtesy, or propriety, if the City Council should 
follow the only precedent established in the present case. 
Upon an inspection of the proceedings of last year, in ref- 
erence to this matter, we find this view sustained by the 
order of the Board of Aldermen. By these records it ap- 
pears that the subject occupied the attention of the gov- 
ernment, at various times, and owing to a division between 
the two branches, no action was matured. The history of 
this matter during the past year was briefly this : The 
petition of Hon. J. J. Clarke and others was presented, 
and is as follows : " The subscribers, citizens of Roxbury, 
deeming it fit and proper to perpetuate the names of those 
whose virtues and labors have placed them high on the 
record of public benefactors, and especially of such of them 
as are associated with the early history of our city, and 
inasmuch as in the division of the city, the school bearing 
the name of Eliot was included in the town of West 
Roxbury, they would respectfully request that the school 
to be gathered in the house recently erected by the city 
on Gore Avenue, so near the scene of the labors of that 
distinguished man, may bear his venerated name, and be 



known as the 'Eliot School.'" This was referred (Jan. 
22d) to the Committee on Public Property, in both 
branches. 

At the next meeting of the government, a similar peti- 
tion from Hon. Samuel Guild and others, praying that the 
name of "Eliot" might be given to the school, was pre- 
sented and referred to the same committee. 

The committee considered the matter, and as appears 
by their report, submitted Feb. 12th, by Alderman Adams, 
the chairman, they were equally divided, and taking into 
consideration the action of the School Committee, they 
" deemed it inexpedient to take further action, and asked 
to be discharged," &c, which report appears to have been 
accepted. That this action was not deemed conclusive of 
the whole matter, as might be inferred from the phraseol- 
ogy of the report, is clear, from the fact that, on Feb. 26th, 
Alderman Adams presented the following preamble and 
order : " Whereas petitions have been presented to the 
City Council, signed by citizens of Roxbury, praying that 
the new school house recently erected on Gore Avenue 
may be known as the 'Eliot School,' — therefore it is 
hereby Ordered, That the new 'Grammar School House 
recently erected on Gore Avenue, shall be called from this 
time hereafter, the Eliot School, and be known by that 
name." 

N And the order was adopted by the board, and sent 
down for concurrence. The Common Council non-con- 
curred. In the Common Council, same date (Feb. 26th), 
it was " Ordered, That the Committee on Public Property 
be instructed to procure a tablet, with the name of the 
school house on Gore Avenue inscribed thereon, ' The 
Comins School,' and cause the same to be placed in the 
front of said school house." 

This order was sent up for concurrence ; the Board of 
Aldermen refused to concur, by laying the order on the 
table, from whence it was never called up. This was the 



8 

action of the government of last year. It seems that they 
did not regard the action of the School Committee as a 
finality, but, on the contrary, the Board of Aldermen 
passed an order giving the name of "Eliot" to this school, 
and refused to recognize the other name designated by the 
School Committee, by laying the order from the other 
branch, concerning the tablet, upon the table, and taking 
no further action in the matter. 

The remonstrants represent, that " the care of our public 
schools is by law intrusted to the School Committee, chosen 
by the citizens with especial reference to their qualifications 
and fitness for that trust, and the naming of the public schools 
would seem to be one of the appropriate duties of their 
office, &c. ; that in other cities it is usual for the School 
Committee to name the schools, and that in our own they 
have generally exercised that right." That the care and 
superintendence of our public schools is intrusted to our 
School Committee, as is provided in the eleventh section 
of our City Charter, as well as by the laws of the Common- 
wealth, there is no question in the mind of your committee, 
and we are not aware that any doubt exists upon the 
point. And if it be one of their " appropriate duties" to 
name the schools, we can only say that, whatever they 
have done under the town government, it is certain that 
they have never claimed or exercised such a right since 
the adoption of the City Charter, in 1 846, though oppor- 
tunity has offered for them to do so, neither have they 
remonstrated or protested against the exercise of this 
right by the City Council. We do not consider it our 
province to decide the question of right and duty between 
the School Committee and City Council, neither are we to 
determine the practice in other places. Our duties will 
be sufficiently discharged by a statement of the facts 
connected with the subject matter of the petitions, and 
with what has been the practice here, leaving the City 
Council to take such action as it shall deem proper. 



In regard to the donation alluded to by the remonstrant? 
the committee learn that the trust has never been accepted 
by the persons indicated as trustees, that the funds have 
never been in their hands, and consequently they have 
never received any interest accruing from the same, nor 
paid any over to promote the object specified in the 
domtion. If any such interest 'has been paid, it has been 
to other hands than the trustees. The fund's are not in 
the custody of the city, neither has it any control over 
them; that any action in relation to them by the city 
government will be in accordance with right and justice 
we have no doubt. 

In conclusion, the committee regret the necessity for 
the consideration of the question the present year, and 
they trust they will not be considered as travelling out of 
the path of their duty, if they add, that to suppose the 
intention of the School Committee of last year to have 
been to administer a rebuke to either branch of the city 
government for any act of omission or commission, is to 
suppose a want of courtesy on their part, inconsistent with 
the rights and duties of one department to another, and as 
such intent is disclaimed by individual members of the 
committee of last year, it is to be hoped that no such 
intent was entertained. It is to be presumed that all 
public functionaries discharge their duties in an open 
manly, and dignified manner, and with a single eye to the 
public weal. 

After a careful review of the whole subject, the com- 
mittee are of the opinion, that whatever the practice was 
under the town government, it is apparent that since the 
organization of the city government, in 1846, the School 
Committee have neither claimed nor exercised that right; 
that "the Dearborn School" was named by the City 
Council, or a joint committee thereof; that the School 
Committee offered no protest or remonstrance to the act» 
but, on the contrary, gave it their implied sanction ; that 



10 

the Board of Aldermen of last year did not recognize the 
regularity of the committee's proceedings, nor their binding 
force, nor that they acted in accordance with precedent, 
and they, therefore, sought to confer the name of Eliot 
upon the school, and refused to concur with the other 
branch in ordering the tablet; that the School Committee 
of the present year have not claimed that the exercise of 
this right by the City Council would be regarded by them 
as an invasion of their rights, although they must be aware 
that the subject is before the Council for action; and 
believing that the school house on Gore Avenue has not 
been named in accordance with usage and precedent, since 
the adoption of the City Charter, and that the government 
of last year, by reason of divided councils, failed to per- 
form this duty, and that no violation of the rights and 
duties of the School Committee will hereby be invaded, 
and that it will tend to harmonize conflicting opinions, and 
be in accordance with the feelings of the community, and 
especially with those who take a deep interest in the 
cause of education, and the welfare of our public schools, 
that the name of "Eliot" so justly revered, may be placed 
upon the edifice, so near the scenes of his labors, and that 
his early and long continued efforts and generous aid for 
extending the advantages of education in his own and all 
coming time, would seem to render it a sacred duty of 
the people of this city, to evince their rightful appreciation 
of his worth, by commemorating his name, the committee 
are induced to recommend that the prayer of the petition- 
ers be granted. 

In arriving at this conclusion the committee entirely 
disclaim any influences of a personal, partizan, or a political 
character. No considerations of this nature have had the 
remotest bearing in influencing their judgment. For the 
gentleman whose name was selected by the School Com- 
mittee, they have a high regard, and they entertain great 
respect for him as one of their fellow citizens, who has 



11 

been called to assume important public trusts in the city, 
and as Representative to Congress for the Fourth District, 
and they appreciate his efforts in the discharge of all his 
duties to advance the interests and welfare of the com- 
munity. The efforts of all our fellow citizens who have 
served the city in the character of its Chief Magistrate, are 
not only appreciated by those of our own time, but will 
be held in grateful remembrance by those' who may come 
after us. 

Your committee, therefore, recommend that the prayer 
of the petitioners be granted, and that the accompanying 
order be adopted. 

All which is respectfully submitted. 

By order of the Committee, 

NELSON CURTIS, Chairman. 



CITY OF EOXBUKY. 



In Board of Aldermen, Feb. 11, 1856. 

Ordered, That the School House recently erected by the City on Gore 
Avenue, be and the same is hereby known as the " Eliot School ;" and 
that the Committee on Public Property cause a suitable tablet to be 
inserted in the exterior walls of the building, of such kind of stone as 
aaid Committee may deem proper, on which the name of the School, 
and the year in which the building was erected, shall be cut, and that 
the expense thereof be defrayed from any moneys in the treasury not 
otherwise appropriated. 



PUBLIC LIBRARY 

OK THE 

CITY OF BOSTON. 



ABBREVIATED REGULATIONS. 

. One volume can be taken at a time from the 
Lower Hall, and one from the Bates Hall. 
Books can be kept out 14 clays. 

A line of 2 cents for each volume will be 
incurred for each day a book is detained more 
than 14 days. 

Any book detained more than a week be- 
yond the time limited, will be sent for at the 
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The Library hours for the delivery and re- 
turn of books are from 10 o'clock, A. M., to 
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sunset in the Bates Hall. 

Every book must, under penalty of one dol- 
lar, be returned to the Library at such time 
in August as shall be publicly announced. 

The card must be presented whenever a 
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